In the game, you will of begin with a spacecraft and a small sum of Credits. You will be able to trade, pirate, bounty-hunt, explore, and salvage your way to wealth and fame, building on those key elements of the previous games, and with sumptuous graphics only now possible with the performance of today’s machines. Only this time some of the ships out there will be other players like yourself – other members of a secret ‘Elite’ group of space-farers…
Please note that this information is about a game still in development and is subject to change.
Single player by default will mean playing alone, but within a shared and evolving universe. That means regular updates from central servers. However, Frontier Developments has promised that players will have the option to turn synchronisation off when creating a new commander. They won't be able to play with this commander with other players online though, and their universe will stay mostly static.
You will be able to control who else you might encounter in your game – perhaps limit it to just your friends? Cooperate on adventures or chase your friends down to get that booty.
The game will work in a seamless, lobby-less way, with the ability to rendezvous with friends as you choose. This technology is already working, using a combination of peer-to-peer (to reduce lag) and server connections.
You simply play the game, and depending on your configuration (your choice) some of the other ships you meet as you travel around are real players as opposed to computer-controlled ships. It may be a friend you have agreed to rendezvous with here, or it may be another real player you have encountered by chance.
All players will be part of a “Pilot’s Federation” – that is how they are distinguished from non-players – so you will be able to tell who is a player and who is a non-player easily.
Unlike previous games, the Elite: Dangerous universe will evolve. As people explore the galaxy, the different factions will be seen to spread to further star systems, colonising planets and building space stations.
New star ports will not simply appear overnight, however; they will be slowly built in real time. These events will create opportunities for players as the resources and people required for building will need to be transported and there will no doubt be related military missions and scope for increased piracy.
Procedural generation of content is a technique where content is generated from rules. It abstracts repetitive or arbitrary elements of content creation in a very efficient way.
Imagine a medieval landscape. Laying out towns, roads, castles, farm land, forests and so on can be done by a system of rules – putting castles widely spaced out on vantage points, towns near rivers but under the protection of such a castle, roads between them, then with farm land to support them all. An artist can still design the castle, the houses in the towns, but this approach greatly magnifies the content that can be created. “Frontier” did this for the star systems, and planets, and with Elite: Dangerous, Frontier Developments will go further.
Destructible Ship ModelsEdit
Larger ships will have multiple shield generators which can be targeted and will fail individually. This will add an extra level of skill where attackers can inflict hull damage by firing weapons at a single point and the prey navigates in a way that draws fire to working shields.
The operating shield radius on very large ships will also allow for very small fighters to be able to sneak under them and cause immediate damage to the hull.
Unlike previous Elite games where ships would simply explode once the hull integrity hit zero, the ship models will be divided in to sections so that damage will be localised to where weapon fire impacts. This means that the cargo hold can be exposed (shedding cargo) but thrusters, hyperdrives and weapons would not be affected.
Alternatively, hyperdrives or thrusters could be targeted, preventing an escape or completely disabling the enemy. Frontier Developments have already hinted at future updates allowing for boarding of ships.
Unlike RPGs, players in Elite Dangerous will not choose their role by customising their character. Instead, the choice and customisation of their ship will be geared towards specific role(s). Examples cited are Trader, Explorer, Bounty Hunter and Pirate. However hybrid roles or new roles may be possible through updates or emergent gameplay e.g. mining.
Frontier Developments have been positive about suggestions that players can have multiple ships so they are able to switch between roles. However, how this will be achieved has not been finalised.
TradingEditTrading in previous games was limited to a relatively small number of different commodities such as hydrogen fuel, precious metals, computers etc. Elite Dangerous will see the addition of an extra dimension to the various commodities traded. Depending on how far goods have travelled, a higher price will result.
Stockmarkets will no longer have static prices depending on system. Prices will now respond to events going on in the vicinity such as war, famine, blockades etc. This creates the opportunity for players to "game" the stockmarkets by controlling supply and demand.
It won't just be commodities that can be traded. David Braben has said that game items can also be bought and sold, such as maps and permits. There will also be smuggling.
Piracy & Bounty HuntingEdit
Engaging in combat has the consequence of heating up your hull (e.g. performing tight turns, firing weapons) which will make you easier to spot on scanners. This means that players will be able to detect on-going battles and join in. David Braben has hinted at the ability for combatants to communicate with ships in the vicinity to "do deals". This may mean you'll get a share of the profits if you save a trader from pirates or you'll get a share in the loot if you don't mind getting a bounty on your head.
Mining & Gas ScoopingEdit
Of course, mining and scooping will be important activities; providing the raw resources to keep civilisation going. However, little has been said about how they will differ, if at all, from previous games. Although mining would seem to be a very labour intensive activity, requiring much of a player's time, it hasn't been included as a career in its own right.
Currency / CreditsEdit
Frontier Developments have mentioned that they have considered multiple in-game currencies, as long as they don't confuse gameplay. Players will be able to buy credits with real money. However, buying progression is made difficult because many aspects of the game depend on rank. By embracing real money transactions they are hoping to avoid the "gold farmers" that have blighted most modern MMORPG games.
Previous games tried to obey the laws of physics to a certain extent. This meant conventional thrusters were limited by the laws of relativity i.e. players could not travel faster than light within a star system. Frontier: Elite II used the Stardreamer feature as a realism/gameplay trade-off. However, such a mechanism would not work in a multiplayer game, so Elite Dangerous will feature faster than light travel using hyperspace.
Landing On PlanetsEdit
Frontier Developments took the decision to implement landing on planets as a future update. This gives them more time to implement a significant feature in a manner that they're happy with. Players will still be able to skim the atmosphere to scoop gases. For an insight in to the rich experience planned for atmosphers, watch the procedural generation video above.
Ships will be customisable in a way that affects how the ship functions. They will feature hard points for weapons and thrusters, giving the player more control over how the ship behaves and what strengths and weaknesses it'll have.
Weapons will not always be immediately available. Weapons will need to be enabled in anticipation of using them. This allows for offensive / defensive stances and bluffing.
Although, for reasons of playability, the game will not feature completely realistic Newtonian mechanics, there is going to be a vast improvement in astrophysics. David Braben has confirmed the inclusion of new encounters with comets, black holes and quasars (in updates at least).
David Braben, in an interview with PCGamesN indicated that Elite: Dangerous will be set in a randomly generated Milky Way with over 100 billion solar systems, including our own. In addition each system could have up to 100 objects, leading to plenty of opportunities for the player.
Features Not included at LaunchEdit
After release several features will be added to Elite: Dangerous. Some of these were available in previous editions of the game and some new to this one.